X and Z

from the introduction to Memories, Dreams, Reflections, K. Jung

been thinking a lot of late about the concept of internal narrative, ie the driving and/or defining story that we all use or draw from, unique and distinct from anyone else; the story that somehow got formulated at a very early age and laid the bedrock for subsequent years and how we use subsequent life, living, and/or events and/or actions to support that narrative, ie how the narrative itself becomes self-fulfilling. example: narrative is I am X because I sometimes do Z. action: I just did Z. conclusion: I am therefore X.

Very difficult thing to break out of, this self-fulfilling loop, spanning decades usually. In fact it's quite typical to proceed unawares for large chunks of time. It's easy to. My internal narrative has its roots in early childhood and is very simple and basic (I suspect most peoples are) but once I identified and isolated it I began to see it everywhere - which is disturbing in and of itself, ie how can something so small and benign from a young age ripple through an adult life impacting thought and deed? - in how I speak, how I move, how I cogitate, in what I respond to and who I respond to. It engenders a deeper question: Am I really, truly X or do I just think I am? in other words, can I transcend the narrative I've been living/re-learning for close to 4 decades or will it end up explained by the vague assertion that's just who I am?

Any presumption that the human animal is capable of profound complexity and depth seems to be refuted by this disturbing article from the NY Times magazine, which explores how advertisers exploit the cue-habit-reward loop, and which suggests quite easily that we are not that removed from rats in a lab responding to squares of chocolate.

Still, as I found myself contemplating recently I felt a tingly sense of discovery. Maybe the code hasn't been cracked but that a code has been discovered at all is an auspicious starting place. As I said, every person's narrative is extremely unique, extremely personal so there's no point in me listing all the details and memories that comprise mine but suffice it to say that it deals with me perpetually seeking something from the floor of one particular lake. the wrong lake. Or put another way, I am now trying to keep this principle of Lojong front and center, number 59:
Don't expect applause.
It is exceedingly more complex than that and yet just as simple, sort of like how a well-worn maxim such as 'Be Kind to Others" can be cliched and profound all at once.

1 comment:

Stephilius said...

Oh.... Yes, yes, yes. Striking a chord, here. All of it. Thanks, bp.